CAIRO (Housaper)–His Holiness Karekin I–Catholicos of All Armenia’s–arrived in Cairo Wednesday for his first pontifical visit to that parish–reported Housaper–our sister publication in Egypt.
The Catholicos was greeted at the Cairo airport by the Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Egypt Archbishop Zaven Tchintchinian; Armenia’s plenipotentiary representative to Egypt Edward Nalbandian; and state and religious officials from Egypt.
Accompanying the Catholicos were Primate of the Aragadzodn Diocese Bishop Navasard Kjoyan– Scepter Bearer Rev. Movses Movsisyan and the chairman of the state commission on religious affairs Lazar Soudjian.
At 2:30 p.m. local time–the Catholicos and his entourage arrived at St. Gregory the Illuminator Church where he was greeted by members of the Egyptian-Armenian community as well as leaders and officials of Armenian organizations–who had been anticipating his arrival.
Following the traditional blessing of bread and salt–the Catholicos was escorted to the church–where he joined the Arch. Tchintchinian and other clerics in a special mass.
At the conclusion of the religious service–Arch. Tchintchinian welcomed the Catholicos and emphasized the importance of this pontifical visit to the Egyptian-Armenian community.
In his remarks–the Catholicos thanked the Archbishop and praised the Armenian community of Cairo–stressing that his pontifical visit coincided with the 70th anniversary of the St. Gregory the Illuminator church in Cairo.
Karekin I added that after more than 70 years of communist rule in Armenia–the Mother See had quickly regained its independence as the national church of Armenia–and reminded those gathered that he was coming from an independent Republic of Armenia.
In conclusion–he also thanked the leadership of Egypt–especially Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
He then addressed the representative of the Egyptian foreign ministry and former Egyptian ambassador to Armenia Ahmad Fouad Ruslan in English–thanking him and his government for the friendship and cooperation expressed toward Armenia and Armenia’s.
Karekin I then expressed well wishes to the leader of the Coptic Church Patriarch Shnouda III who was being represented by a high-level cleric of his denomination.
During a reception following the services–Karekin I turned to Nalbandian and stated that if he had visited this parish ten years earlier there would not have been an ambassador from Armenia and stressed the importance of strengthening Armenia’s independence.
Ruslan also welcomed Karekin I on behalf of the Egyptian government–and praised the Catholicos.
"The Armenian people–whether independent or not–have a special place for the Arab nation. With these sincere sentimen’s–I welcome you on behalf of the entire Egyptian nation," said Ruslan.
In conclusion–the Coptic Church representative also welcomed the Catholicos on behalf of the church and Patriarch Shnouda III.
Following the reception–the Catholicos met with the public.